The muses of the sixties were young, ambitious and revolutionary, they pushed the boundaries of acceptability in a time of 'out with the old and in with the new’. Androgynous, waif model Twiggy, busty bombshell Bardot and slender pop-show compeer Cathy McGowan were all part of London’s new breed of socially elite party-darlings, as smart drugs, thigh-high hemlines and a flourishing arts scene began to take over. More than four decades later, it is free spirit Jane Mallory Birkin’s effortless style and the spell she continues to modestly cast over the fashion world which deserves credit.
Becoming a household name in the summer of love, after her controversial nude role in ’66 fashion flick ‘Blow Up’, Birkin became noticed for her sensual beatnik fashion sense instead of just classed as a key player in the sexual revolution of the time. Whilst the one piece swimsuit was being instigated by notoriously naughty Rudi Gernreich, Birkin was dining in slip-less crocheted minis, a brash move even designers hadn’t considered. If it wasn’t for her natural doe-eyed beauty, Birkin could be classed as an innocent harlot, but instead stylish innovator is certainly a more apt title. Single-handedly she founded the ‘festival chic’ style which defines so many today.
London quickly lost Birkin to France in ‘68 to fulfil her acting desires. Soon after arriving in the city of Love she landed the main female role in ‘Slogan’ despite her not speaking French, and the rest they say, is history. A young woman who bore more than just good genes, she exuded star quality with a certain je nais sais quoi which her cult fan base both loved and envied her for. As a married mother of two, she became the face of bohemian France alongside Parisian wonderwall and lover Sergio Gainsbourg. Together the sultry twosome recorded the erotic pop song "Je T'Aime...Moi Non Plus”, which today it is a euro sleaze classic.
A goddess to fashionistas internationally, Hermes fashion house was the next in a long list of admirers, creating the luxurious leather ‘Birkin’ bag specifically in her honour. The grandfather of the ‘it’ bags, which today has the longest waiting list of any accessory – six years, is an everlasting example of classic beauty and timeless design. The sought after purses are now arguably more famous than the icon for their creation, but humble Birkin remains in the background, a move only the French (or adopted French) could uphold.